The summer Bank Holiday means rest and relaxation


Gordon Martin

Summer is upon us and most people are likely to be thinking about spending time with friends and family as well as having fun. Traditionally summer means a break from work or school and (hopefully) some good weather! The summer Bank Holiday means a nice long weekend in August. This guide aims to give you the history of Bank Holidays, help you understand what Bank Holidays are for, what people do during the period as well as things you can do without resorting to payday loans to fund it. On that note, we've gathered everything you need to know about Bank Holidays below.

What are Bank Holidays?

Bank Holidays are public holidays in the United Kingdom and other countries like the Republic of Ireland and Hong Kong, when banks and many other businesses are closed for the day. The assumption is often that Bank Holidays are regarded as such because they are days that banks are shut. However, you should know that not all days that banks are shut are classified as Bank Holidays. Good Friday and Christmas Day, for example, are not Bank Holidays but rather common law holidays.

In England, Wales and Ireland there are basically four Bank Holidays. These include Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the summer Bank Holiday (also known as the August Bank Holiday), Boxing Day in England and Wales and then St Stephen's Day in Ireland. In Scotland, on the other hand, there are five Bank Holidays which include New Year's Day, Good Friday, the first Monday in May, the first Monday in August and Christmas Day.

Theme park rides

History of Bank Holidays

Since the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, the specific days mentioned above were marked out and classified as Bank Holidays. The original intention of this act was to give bank employees the opportunity to participate and attend cricket matches. A 100 years later, the summer Bank Holiday was shifted to the last Monday in August for England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, as a trial. After 5 years of test-running the new date it was made permanent. However, to date, Scotland still has their summer Bank Holiday on the first Monday in August. This means that UK citizens have six permanent Bank Holidays and two public holidays annually.

Classic Bank Holiday films

  • ET
  • James Bond
  • Indiana Jones
  • Star Wars

How do Bank Holidays affect you?

The financial implication of these holidays (whether a public or Bank Holiday) is that they sometimes affect how and when benefits are paid. In the majority of cases, recipients should get their benefits ahead of time if there is an upcoming Bank Holiday but it may not always be the case, so make sure to check if this affects you. In terms of how it affects employment, an employer doesn't have to give paid leave on Bank (or public) Holidays but it depends on the employment contract. Also, depending on the contract, an employer may decide to grant time off work or extra pay for working on these days at their discretion.

"Fingers crossed for some good weather on the Bank Holiday"
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Why the rest of the UK has different Bank Holidays to Northern Ireland and Scotland

The dates for Bank Holidays are set out in the statute; proclaimed by royal decree in the UK, while most Bank Holidays are not recognised as statutory public holidays in Scotland. The reason is that almost all public holidays are set aside by Scottish local authorities. Also, Scottish and Northern Irish citizens also celebrate their patron saints with a day off while the English and Welsh do not.

What are summer Bank Holidays?

Now that there is an understanding of what Bank Holidays are and the difference between them and public holidays, you may be wondering what a summer Bank Holiday is. The summer Bank Holiday marks a transition from the summer holidays into the autumn for many people who have to go back to work or school after the summer. It was first observed the same year that it was introduced in the Bank Holidays Act 1871. The summer Bank Holiday typically happens on the last Monday of August across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, in Scotland, it happens on the first Monday of August and for this reason, it is often regarded as the August Bank Holiday.

Snoozing in a hammock

How do people spend their time?

The original intention of the summer Bank Holiday was to give working people some respite. For a lot of people, short trips and holidays are the norm during this three-day weekend. For others, on the other hand, it is time set aside to spend with family as well as loved ones and simply rest with some relaxation. Although it's only three days, there's a lot that can be done. You could also consider taking your work annual leave (if you have such a thing) around this time if you want to enjoy an extended holiday. For the most part, however, people do social things like BBQs, garden parties, attend festivals and travel, as we will cover below.

Who opens on Bank Holidays?

Many organisations, schools, and businesses are closed on the summer Bank Holiday. However, this is not always the case. In recent years the leisure and retail sectors have actually boosted their operations on these days to take advantage of the increased amount of people on holiday. Be aware that not only do public transport systems often run to a holiday timetable but a lot of engineering work is scheduled for that time which can cause delays. Congestion on roads and public transport systems is usually common as the three-day weekend marks the end of the summer holiday period and people tend to be on the move as a result.

Summer Bank Holiday activities

Over the Bank Holiday period, there usually a load of music and cultural festivals being held. In case you've been thinking about what you can get up to, perhaps think about attending one. You can check the internet for listings of local events that you can be involved in. Festivals are not the only things you can do on the Bank Holiday. Here are some suggestions of what to do to make the most of the holiday.

Three days may sound insufficient time to really travel, but the reality is, with a bit of thought, it's more than long enough. You could consider a city break or a camping trip or even a cruise. If want to really maximise your time you could travel overnight and really get away, especially if you make the time zones work in your favour. Remember to shop around for deals before buying tickets and look for discounts when buying at the last minute. You should also check in the discount and sales section of shops for summer clothes, accessories and sun cream you can take along with you to ensure you have a safe and fun break.

Typically, the holidays should make you feel refreshed and revitalised, but often times one can find that after the short break you're not too enthusiastic about getting back to work. However, there is a way that you can ensure that you have fun during the summer Bank Holiday and still keep your mind active which is by keeping your mind engaged with fun learning activities. You can do this by taking time out to learn a new skill that you haven't had the time to do or dedicating more time to a hobby. Remember that self-development is never a bad thing and making good use of your free time is key. Other ideas of things you can do include brushing up on your language proficiency, learning to swim if you can't already, reading a few books, practising playing a musical instrument or dancing amongst other things.

Seeing as life can get busy and people often get caught up in the work and sleep cycle, finding time to spend with family and friends can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. However, time spent with loved ones is usually priceless so using your summer Bank Holiday to create new memories may be a good idea. You may consider visiting your grandparents, visiting nephews and nieces, uncles, aunts and cousins as well as anyone else that you haven't been able to connect with in a while. The best thing about spending time with loved ones is that it doesn't have to cost much so consider home visits, hosting dinner, or having a games night.

As mentioned before, the three-day weekend may seem short but when utilised properly, it can prove really rewarding. There are actually quite a few home fixes you can DIY without needing a payday loan. These include a repaint, replacing burnt out bulbs, updating fixtures, as well as a little spring cleaning where needed. Other things like checking for any plumbing issues, fixing anything that's broken and perhaps adding a new touch in terms of interior can also be done during this free time. There are a lot of DIY videos across the internet you can take advantage of to give you ideas as well as a few pointers.

Something else you can do during the summer Bank Holiday is have a summer garden party or BBQ. You can pick a theme if you want to make it a little fun as well. If you're on a budget, when it comes to food, you should consider changing up the menu. The meal expectations at summer parties are usually hamburgers and hot-dogs, but you can try serving finger foods and sandwiches which are usually low in cost and don't demand you stand by the BBQ all day. A bring-your-own-meat (BYOM) party is also a great idea as you end up giving your guests the dinner they want. They will not only enjoy the food, but it also saves you the cost of buying more. In addition, afternoon parties will also save you money as they typically involve finger foods as opposed to full dinners.

A lot of people have a bucket list that is perhaps filled to the brim with no time to execute the things they would like to do. The summer Bank Holiday is another opportunity to do something you have never done before, expand your horizons and create new experiences. If you don't, this is the perfect opportunity to see how much you can do in three days. Seeing as the weather is likely to be nice consider something adventurous like canoeing, going on a boat ride, hiking, being a tourist for a few days, or going on random adventures with some friends.


The summer Bank Holiday only comes once a year, so it's key that you make the most of it. Whether this means spending more time with family, venturing off to a new destination, or attending a festival, try your best to make it happen. Having fun during this season doesn't mean that you have to break the bank. It's simply about making the best use of the resources that you have and making every moment of your break count.

For an official list of UK Bank Holidays, visit this website.